Political Advertising in India 2014 – Worth it?

Did I just hear that this year the estimated spend on political campaigns in India is $5 billion? $5 billion? That’s like 30,000 crores in INR! $5 billion? That’s just $2 billion short of what they spent in last presidential election in US! $5 billion? That’s way beyond the permissible spend-limit on election campaigns in India. And from where did all this money come from? Curious, like really! But let’s leave it at that. There has to be something because of which everybody is discussing the campaign, the new age strategies, the messaging, the spend but not the real source of spend :). Partly we know the reasons of it, don’t we?

Now coming down to the campaign this year – I think it’s been phenomenal, be it the massive scale at which it has been managed or the diversity in messaging and medium that has been tried out. At least there has been an attempt of targeting different types of audience with different communication strategies this year. Hats off to the agencies and associates involved with these campaigns. As a marketer, I think this year’s campaign was noticeable and impactful and BIG!

But as a consumer? Well, I’m sure we have read this hundred times before – “No amount of good advertising can actually save a bad product”! And how relevant this seems for political advertising in India this year? Every time I see the ads like this or this on TV, I cringe. Neither the creative route is wrong, nor it has got to do with my being pro or anti any party. It’s simply the messaging, the commitment or the positioning that these ads are trying to make – those are false, just so blatantly false. And the leaders who are the faces of these ads just do not have any connect with the messages being communicated. The more I see these ads, the more irritated I get. Not to forget the bombardment that happens on radio, hoardings & digital media. Again reminds me of yet another famous saying in marketing world – “Nothing kills a bad product or service faster than good advertising”. These ads at least to me are just reminders of false promises by these political brands.

And then there are videos like these on women safety that has been doing rounds on social media. I’m sure it can’t be the work of formal advertising agency associated with that party but whosoever has done it, it’s such a trash. This is not just one video, I have also seen official videos speaking of women empowerment or safety in India. After all the incidents that has happened in last few years as gang rapes, molestation, rapes of minors, this is such a sensitive subject that perhaps should not have been used in any campaign. It’s not one or other party but we know that this is one issue that many parties have failed to fulfill their promises multiple times and at multiple levels. The consequences of such false commitments are so huge, then why even dare to bring these in your campaigns?

When the core itself is not in place, when there is a lack of trust in the prime product promoted, when the product has failed many times on its own commitments in past, then do you think any advertising can actually save such product? Yes, I know campaigns are required but did it change your perception?

Would love to know your views on Political Advertising in India for Elections this year. Liked it? Believed in it? Worth it?

As for me, how I wish that after every such political commercial on Television, we the viewers would have got to view this “No Ullu Banaoing” campaign by IDEA! Good sequencing, what say readers :)? And on that note, must say that love these IDEA ads and I think these IDEA ads are surely the highlights of Junior Bachchan’s career more than any of his movies.

*And a post on this blog after more than one and half years. Must thank political campaigns that finally compelled me to write here after this long gap 🙂

Communicating or Spamming?

Yes, I am liking this new media communication strategy of Indian Political parties this year esp. of BJP but think they are definitely going over-board now. Can somebody please tell BJP campaign management team that:

  • Over communication esp. through certain media can really KILL your campaign.
  • Bombarding consumers repeatedly with too many messages, promises & benefits of the same product can actually be treated as spamming and not marketing.

Here is what I mean by my above two statements. On a daily basis I am getting SMSes from “TA-BJP” on my both mobile phones. Some of those messages are:

  • BJP’s promise: Terror-free India, Hunger-free society, Debt-free kisan, Worry-free middle class. 3.5 crore families to benefit from income tax exemption for incomes up to Rs. 3 lakh p.a. Student loans at 4%. Advani for PM. www.lkadvani.in
  • Har school jaane wali balika ko lakhpati banane wali LADLI LAKSHMI YOJANA par karenge amal. Advaniji ki shapath. http://www.lkadvani.in
  • BJP’s JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN JAI VIGYAN promise. Longstanding demands of our brave Armed Forces to be met. Farm loans at 4%. Road and broadband connectivity to all villages. 1.2 crore IT-enabled jobs in rural areas. Advani for PM. www.lkadvani.in

Need I say more??? These are just few samples, I have definitely received a lot more messages to attain a reflex reaction of pressing the DELETE button as soon as I see the sender as “TA-BJP” now.

Suggestion: BJP campaign team, good to see your aggressive strategies but please introduce some section on your website for consumers to unsubscribe from receiving these messages. Permission is the KEY for certain medium! Also would be good if you can post some anecdotes on your website about execution of any of these promises. Will help in establishing some credibility towards your SMSes!


Advaniji goes further aggressive on digital medium!

I had earlier written about Advaniji getting net savvy and his portal www.lkadvani.in. But looks like humare neta, Advaniji toh internet space mein super aggressive ho rahe hai :D. Ah he is not leaving any stone unturned to reach out the online Indian citizens. Here are some developments which I observed recently from Advaniji and his campaign promotion teamJ

  • Blog: Like everybody and anybody on this earth, even L.K. Advani has decided to have his presence on blogosphere. His blog http://blog.lkadvani.in/ got launched in Jan’09 & supposedly Mr. Advani is blogging personally on this space. Well, posts are good but don’t think he is writing it himself. Fan following of his blog seems to be ok with each post having on an average 100+ comments. No, I don’t mean 100+ comments is less but kya karein, celebs like BigB and Aamir Khan have set a very high bench-mark for popular personality blogs with each of their posts receiving on an average 1000+ comments.
  • Online Advertisement / SEM: Oh this was truly a surprise for me, I noticed 2-3 sites as well as Google sponsored search displaying L.K.Advani portal ads. And yeah quite an extensive keyword listing they have done for these ads, you type any election related keyword & you get to see these ads. Impressive isn’t it?


  • Emailer campaigns: Personally I have not received this email but one of my associates was mentioning that after pre-recorded voices now people are doing email blasts as part of political advertising. He received an email with subject as invitation from L.K.Advani to visit his portal www.lkadvani.in

Well, I am neither a big supporter of BJP nor I am active into Indian Politics scenario. Most of the times I find it to be so dirty that I prefer to have my involvement limited to reading or watching just headlines and that too not because of any interest but only to be updated about the latest happenings. Having said that, I do find this initiative of BJP a good move and sort of positive change in Indian Politics. At least they are trying to connect to the newer generation; at least they are taking some effort to reach out to educated mass. Wondering if it is Obama effect or the Social media effect on his campaign management team but whatever it is, I must say it is a welcome change J.